Saturday, July 21, 2018

United Accord Brings Together U.S., Ghanaian Troops

By Army Staff Sgt. Brandon Ames, U.S. Army Africa

ACCRA, Ghana -- Members of Ghana’s armed forces are partnered with participants from other African nations, European allies and U.S. Army Africa for exercise United Accord 2018, which began July 16 at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre here.

"I'd like to thank our Ghanaian counterparts for hosting this world class, two-week exercise," said Army Brig. Gen. Eugene J. LeBoeuf, the U.S. Army Africa acting commander. "We look forward to conducting this mission and returning home to share the lessons learned and new knowledge with our home station."

For two weeks, more than 800 military personnel will participate in UA18. The exercise consists of a command post exercise, company field training exercise focused on peacekeeping operations, a medical readiness exercise and Ghanaian-led jungle warfare school training.

The command post exercise is designed to increase the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali's capacity to plan, deploy, sustain and redeploy a combined joint task force in support of U.N. and African Union-mandated peacekeeping operations.

The field training exercise, jungle training and medical readiness exercise will build participants’ readiness, capacity, security and stability through combined unit-level tactics, individual soldier skills and medical practices in forward-deployed environments.

The purpose of UA18 is to promote interoperability between U.S. and partner forces and organizations, advance troop contributing countries capacity to support MINUSMA and similar operations, and increase exercise participants' abilities to execute MINUSMA sector headquarter tasks, while enhancing positive multilateral relationships.

“Ghana is a defense and economic leader in the region and a valued partner, and it is because of these strengths that Ghana is an ideal host for an exercise like United Accord,” LeBoeuf said.

DoD Policy Chief Urges U.S.-Russian Collaboration on Mutual-Interest Issues

By Terri Moon Cronk, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon’s chief policy maker addressed the Aspen Security Forum last night about the need for the United States and Russia to seek common collaboration on issues of national security concern as such opportunities might arise.

In Aspen, Colorado, John C. Rood, undersecretary for defense for policy, said of the two near-peer competitors outlined in the 2018 National Defense Strategy – China and Russia – the latter is the larger near-term threat because of the overwhelming lethality of its nuclear arsenal and some of the behavior the Russian government has exhibited, such as threatening NATO allies and illegally annexing Crimea.

Overall, globally, “[we] have to stand firm in defending the ideals and the values of the international rules-based order we’ve put in place, [which] is of benefit for all,” the undersecretary said. “We’ve got to work very closely with allies – [and take] steps to make NATO fit for our times.  And the European Deterrence Initiative is also getting some greater momentum,” he added.

“We also have to be open to opportunities for collaboration,” with Russia, Rood emphasized. “Where our interests align and we have an opportunity to do something together with the Russians, we should look for those opportunities.”

One such opportunity has been the “deconfliction” line in Syria between the United States and Russia, where the U.S. military is working to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, while Russia defends the Syrian president’s regime in a civil war.

Strategic Stability

“We would also like to talk more about strategic stability, making sure there are clear understandings between the United States and Russia, about these terribly lethal weapons that we both control, and talk about the future of nonproliferation,” Rood said of potential future opportunities with Russia.

“We have shared interests in the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery,” he added. “It’s an area where we’ve had a lot of good cooperation from Russia in the past. This is another area we can collaborate on if there’s enough of an alignment of interest.”

Another concern the United States has with Russia is its lack of respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of NATO nations, he said.

“That’s why we’re doing things like deploying, on a rotational basis, troops in four countries along NATO’s eastern periphery; why we’re doing things like the Four-30s initiative,” in which NATO allies, by the year 2020, would have 30 mechanized battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 combat vessels ready for deployment in 30 days or less. The Four 30s initiative was announced at the June 7-8 meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

North Korea

On North Korea, Rood said it is a solemn obligation for America to make sure that nation makes good on its offer to return the remains of 5,300 U.S. service members from the Korean War, so that American families can have closure. “We’re encouraged that there could be a return of remains in the near future,” he said.

Rood said the Defense Department is hopeful to see progress in North Korea’s efforts to denuclearize.

“What gives me hope this time is [North Korean leader Kim Jong Un] is a different leader than his father and his grandfather,” the undersecretary said of Un’s main focus on the economy, rather than making the military his priority. “I have deep skepticism of denuclearization and their activities, but I’m hopeful,” he said.


The National Defense Strategy also lists the malign influence of Iran as another major challenge to the United States, and Rood noted the long-standing concern the nation has had over Iran’s nuclear program, in addition to other issues, such as its support for terrorism.

As Iran continues to threaten to close shipping in the Persian Gulf to other nations, he advised the Iranians against such action.

“One of our missions for the United States military is, if called upon, to continue the free flow of commerce in that strategic waterway, whether it is vital oil shipments or other commercial goods, [and] to allow for the free and open navigation in the gulf,” Rood said. “Therefore, I really discourage the Iranian government from thinking about trying to interrupt that free flow of commerce. It would not be in their interest.”

Face of Defense: Airman Finds Better Life After Abandoning Gangs for Service

By Robb Lingley, Air Force Space Command

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Growing up in Gilroy, California, Jacqueline Jauregui had everything a girl could wish for: money, designer clothes and so much more. Shortly after her high school graduation, her father took everything from her and kicked her to the streets.

Now an Air Force staff sergeant and the enlisted aide to the Air Force Space Command deputy commander, Jauregui was determined to make her life right, but struggled to get there. She talked about her past to fellow airmen during a “Storytellers at The Club” event here March 30.

“Growing up in Gilroy was a place where everybody knew each other,” Jauregui said. “The way I was raised my dad gave me everything I wanted. I was the girl who spent up to $3,000 on myself every month.”

Although it seemed that everything was perfect on the outside, her home life was not great.

“My dad was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, for which he didn’t take his medication and he was an alcoholic,” Jauregui said. “When he came home we wouldn’t know what kind of mood he would be in and he would just trash the house. The next day he would leave a $1,000 check on the table to replace what he broke.”

She became tired of depending on her father and his money. When Jauregui was close to graduating high school he told her he wasn’t going to pay for her college.

“I decided that since I wasn’t going to college I would join the Air Force,” she said.

Two weeks before her high school graduation, Jauregui was in a car accident and injured her back. The injury was serious enough that she wasn’t able to enlist in the Air Force right away because she was on pain medications.

Cut Off

A week after she graduated high school, Jauregui’s father kicked her out of the house and completely cut her off.

“I could only take with me what I paid for with my own money,” she said.

Jauregui bounced around living with various friends until she settled in with her cousin and his wife. For a while things went well. Her cousin gave her a car and she had a job. The problem was her cousins were Crip gang members.

For Jauregui, their gang affiliation didn’t matter because for the first time in years she felt like she was a part of a family. She was close with her cousins and their friends and having fun. Because of this she actually wanted to be more involved with the gang.

Two of Jauregui’s cousins sat her down and explained to her that if she joined the gang there would be only two ways out: death or prison.

“My cousins wouldn’t let me become a gang member,” she said. “They told me I was young, had a clean slate, and they didn’t want that life for me because I had so much potential.”

Jauregui’s cousins gave her money and kicked her out of the house. She ended up moving in with her boyfriend. After a while, he quit his job and they were living off her $12.99 an hour salary. To help make ends meet they sold all of their furniture, leaving them with just a mattress.

“All we could afford to buy was ramen and frozen burritos,” Jauregui said. “We couldn’t even afford toiletries. My boyfriend and I had to share a bar of soap, which was disgusting.”

Her low point came when she couldn’t afford to buy soap to bathe with. She took a bottle of laundry detergent from the laundry room of her apartment and she and her boyfriend used that to wash themselves.

They weren’t be able to buy necessities, but Jauregui’s boyfriend bought and sold drugs. She told him she wanted to join the military and couldn’t be around drugs.

‘What Am I Doing Here?’

The following summer Jauregui went to stay with her best friend after she returned from college. Her friend’s parents, seeing how desperate she looked, bought her necessities. Before her friend left on vacation, she drove Jauregui back home to the apartment she shared with her boyfriend. Jauregui discovered her boyfriend was throwing a party.

She said she got mad and took a walk around the neighborhood.

“I was walking when I saw a mother with her young son and daughter,” Jauregui said. “All of a sudden I heard a car screech up and then gunshots. I remember ducking behind a pillar and watched the mother chuck her kids in her apartment as she hid behind a pillar as well.”

In that moment, while gunshots were going off, she said she thought to herself, “What am I doing here? This isn’t the life that I wanted.”

After, Jauregui went to a payphone and called her grandmother in Del Rio, Texas, for help. Her grandmother immediately flew her out to Texas in July 2008. Two months later, she was finally able to join the Air Force.

“What I learned is that life is hard,” Jauregui said. “It literally takes one second to wreck your entire life. I almost joined a gang and did drugs, and that would have ruined my entire life.”

She said she remembers when her cousins prevented her from joining the gang, and told her not to make a bad decision that would negatively impact her life just because she was having a bad day.

She made the right decision.